As I am sitting on couch, I notice a commercial about the importance of identifying the symptoms of autism early in children. Autism is a very serious disorder and it is important to identify the illness early. However, there is one mental illness with the highest mortality rate and many adults are unaware of the seriousness of this disorders in teens. Even in the medical community, this disorder fails to receive the funding that other mental health disorders garner. This mental health disorder is known as eating disorders.
Funding for Mental Health Illnesses:
llness Prevalence NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease 5.1 million $450,000,000
Autism 3.6 million $160,000,000
Schizophrenia 3.4 million $276,000,000
Eating disorders 30 million $28,000,000
Types of Eating Disorders
The public is unaware of the different types of eating disorders that have been identified by the medical community. The most common types of eating disorders include:
- inability to maintain minimal normal body weight;
- feelings of fear that one will gain weight;
- distortion of body image;
- amennorrhea or absence of three consecutive menstrual periods.
- binging and purging behaviors occur twice a week for more than three months;
- intense fear of gaining weight;
- engage in a variety of purging behaviors including the use of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting, and excessive exercising.
Some newly identified disorders by the DSM include:
Binge Eating Disorder
- recurrent binge eating that occur twice weekly for a period of at least a period of six months;
- a large amount of food is consumed in a short amount of time;
- episodes include consumption until physically uncomfortable, eating when not hungry, often eating alone, and feeling disgusted with the behavior.
- physical characteristics include obesity or being overweight.
- engage in excessive exercise;
- obsession with caloric intake;
- self worth determined by athletic performance.
- a form of anorexia athletica;
- exhaustion from one single workout or a consistent pattern of behavior;
- experiencing physical, psychological, or social consequences.
In addition to the identified disorders, the medical community has identified some non specified disorders.
- tend to eat when not hungry;
- spend a lot of time thinking about eating;
- excessive amounts of money are spent on food.
- tend not to eat in the morning or first half of the day;
- majortiy of calories consumed in the evening;
- sleep disrupted so person can eat;
- person eats snacks rather than huge meals.
- fixation of eating pure, right, or proper foods;
- experience cyclical extremes, changes in moods, or isolation;
- majority of time spent on spent preparing meals and resisting temptation;
- failure to enjoy life.
Resource: Eating Disorders Online
Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Next week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and the focus is on early intervention and recognizing the diverse experiences of all people who encounter an eating disorder. As school counselors, it is important that we give resources to students and parents, aid in prevention, provide support, and provide referrals for treatment. The theme of Eating Disorders Awareness Week is "I Had No Idea" and the National Association for Eating Disorders Awareness has a kit that can be downloaded to educate your school about eating disorders.
"I Had No Idea" - Kit for organizations.
Activities for Schools
How to Build a Life Size Barbie
Host a Scale Smashing
Sock It to Eating Disorders
Eating Disorder Screening
Share messages for social media
Face Book Banners
Shareable Social Images
Also, check out the educator toolkit on eating disorders.
The tool kit includes:
- Teacher referral to school counselor
- Tips for communicating with parents
- Treatment resources
- Education treatment plan for staff
- Tips for psychologists, school nurses, and coaches
- Set of curriculum
- Additional organizations and resources
Here are additional resources for schools:
Tips and Information for Coaches - great resource to give your coaches to identify ED early in students.
DE Fact Sheet
Early Intervention Resource for Schools
School Guide for ED
Signs and Symptoms Specific to the School Setting
Eating Disorders Impact on Learning
Recommended Dos for Being Supportive
Recommended Don'ts for Being Supportive
Confronting Someone with an ED
Twelve Ideas Help People Eating Disorders Negotiate Holidays
Pro Eating Disorders Websites
Want more information on eating disorders? Check out the following information!
Eating Disorder Conference
Certification for Counselors
Do you have parents that need help? Check out the list of treatment centers and the parent toolkit.
Treatment Centers in the US
Toolkit for Parents
Posters for you school:
Poster for Bulimia Nervosa
Other posters from ANAD: